- About Us
Strawberry Preschool offers preschool and pre-kindergarten programs, based on the child's age and level of development. Each child is given many varied opportunities for working and learning through a play-based curriculum.
Our curriculum is tailored to the interests of the children, and evolves as teachers observe topics suggested by the children's spontaneous play. Weekly and monthly themes are the foundation for our presentation of learning tasks and creative activities, across a range of developmental stages.
Our primary teaching philosophy is based on the work of Jean Piaget, a Swiss philosopher and developmental psychologist. This child-centered approach to education facilitates cognitive development by:
—providing activities or situations that engage learners
—presenting challenges and opportunities that actively involve children
—practicing problem solving through language, play and socialization
—engaging children in the appropriate stage of motor or mental operations to provide foundations in language and literacy, pre-mathematics, and science
—working in small groups that help children see things from other children's perspectives, —progressively increasing their knowledge of the world around them
Our focus is the "Whole Child". We emphasize the child's overall growth, which includes social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development.
Board of Trustees
Tamalpais and Strawberry Preschools are joined as a non-profit organization, Tamalpais-Strawberry Preschools, Inc., run by a nine-member Board of Trustees. The Board is comprised of parents from both schools, with the Presidency and Vice Presidency alternating between the two schools each year.
The Board meets monthly, working closely with the Directors and Chief Operating Officer to oversee fundraising, facilities, finance, operations, and policy for the two schools. The Board also coordinates a wide variety of programs and events at the schools throughout the year, including the sale of spirit wear, a Halloween extravaganza, and an Annual Spring Joint Meeting for parents and teachers.
Board members are nominated in March and serve one-year terms. We encourage all parents to volunteer and participate in Board-sponsored activities.
President: Corey Lydstone, StrawberryPreschool
Vice-President: Megan Harju, Tamalpais Preschool
A Non-profit Corporation, We Accept Gifts
Tamalpais-Strawberry Preschools, Inc. is a private 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, tax ID# 94-1375807. We gladly accept tax-deductible donations at any time throughout the year to benefit the schools and our educational programs. For more information, please email our Chief Operating Officer Rose Lofrano.
Director Lisa Vaillancourt
Lisa Vaillancourt is an alumnus of Strawberry Preschool class of 1980. She began her journey in early childhood education at Cal State Northridge on a full basketball scholarship, studied Child Development and graduated with a BA in Sociology. After graduating, she returned to Strawberry Preschool and taught for 5 years while continuing her Early Childhood Education at College of Marin. During this time, she was also the Director of the after school program at St. Hilary’s. After 5 years at Strawberry, she decided to pursue her dream of being a children’s photographer. For 10 years, she was the head photographer for Classic Kids Photography. During this time she opened and ran their downtown Mill Valley studio. Realizing she missed teaching, she returned to Strawberry Preschool in 2012 and joined the Pre-K classroom. She was promoted to Director in 2021 — and is thrilled to be leading the Strawberry Team.
All of Strawberry's teachers are educated in the principles of Early Childhood Education and regularly attend classes, workshops, and seminars. Teachers are hired on the basis of their training, professional commitment to children and years of experience. Most of our staff has been with us for an average of 14 years.
Our teaching approach is team-based. Daily staff meetings insure quality programming and the opportunity for teachers to focus on the needs of each child. Two optional conferences with your child's teacher are offered yearly to discuss your child's activities at school. Informal conferences are welcome at any time.
Admissions, Programs & Policies
We are now accepting applications for the 2023-2024 school year—please download and complete this application form (pdf). Children entering preschool must be between 2 and 5 years old by the end of September.
Strawberry Preschool encourages you to set up a tour of our school via email or by phone at (415) 388-4437. Parents are welcome to bring their child with them to observe the program.
Informational meetings are held in January or February, the year of enrollment, and serve to acquaint prospective families with plans for the upcoming year. Families are sent notices of the informational meetings in December or early January. Registration begins in March of the year of enrollment.
We encourage families to visit our program and experience a typical day at school. This is particularly important during the year prior to enrollment, as it is best for parents to understand our philosophy and program before entrusting their child to our care.
Wait List Policy & Procedure
After visiting the school or becoming acquainted with our philosophy and programs, parents may place their child's name on our Wait List for future enrollment. There is a non-refundable $100 fee for placement on the wait list, to be mailed to us along with a completed wait list form.
—Parents may place siblings of past or present students on our wait list for our preschool or pre-kindergarten programs without incurring an additional fee as the $100 wait list fee is a "family fee."
—Payment of this fee does not insure a place in our school but does serve to keep your child's name on our list of prospective students. When the registration process begins in the early spring, we give priority to continuing students and siblings, and then proceed to offer spaces on the basis of order on the waiting list. We try to maintain a healthy mix of boys and girls in each class, and may give preference to boys or girls as needed to provide a balanced social grouping.
—The date of our receipt of the wait list form and fee determines your child's place on the wait list.
Tuition fees for are based on a September through June calendar and divided into ten monthly payments. Full fees are due for the months in which holidays occur. No refund is given for days missed, including absence for illness. For tuition details for the 2023-2024 school year, download our tuition bulletin (pdf).
Bills are sent out at the beginning of each month. Payment is due by the 25th of the month; a $15 late fee will be charged for tuition not received by the 25th. In addition, there will be a charge at an annual interest rate of 18% (1.5% per month) on any unpaid balance over 30 days. There will be a $10 fee charged for all returned checks. Billing questions should be addressed to our Chief Operating Officer Rose Lofrano, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 246-4941.
Late pick-up from Child Care results in additional fees. When the first incident of lateness occurs, a $5 fine is charged for any part of each 15-minute segment of time. Subsequent lateness incidents may result in a $25 fine for any part of each 15-minute segment of time. Abuse of pick-up promptness may result in loss of Child Care privileges. Questions regarding Child Care hours should be addressed to the Preschool Director or the Child Care staff.
Strawberry Preschool offers preschool and pre-kindergarten programs, based on the child's age and level of development. Each child is given many varied opportunities for working and learning through a play-based curriculum. Our curriculum is tailored to the interests of the children and evolves from teachers' observations of topics suggested by the children's spontaneous play. Weekly and monthly themes are the foundation for our presentation of learning tasks and creative activities for a range of developmental stages.
School hours for both our Preschool and Pre-K Programs are 9:00am to 1:00pm
Children can attend Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or all five weekdays.
Child Care and Enrichment Activities are offered from 8:00 to 9:00am and from 1:00 to 4:00pm. Strawberry Preschool generally follows the local public school calendar, beginning school in late August and ending in the beginning of June. Download our 2023-2024 school year calendar (pdf) for details. Optional summer programs are usually offered during the summer months.
The preschool classroom is a spacious playroom, divided into three learning areas, with a large outdoor yard and garden. The indoor space includes an Art Room for artistic and creative expression, a Library that includes children's access to our large collection of children's books, and tables for cognitive small-motor tasks and science exploration. The Library also includes a dramatic play center with dress-up costumes, furniture and housekeeping equipment. Our third indoor area is the Block Room, which includes small unit blocks and large hollow blocks for play. The space can provide more large motor activities such as music, body movement, musical instruments, dancing and the use of other movement equipment.
Our Pre-K program is a five-day program with 16 students and two teachers. The program has been designed for children old enough to attend Kindergarten, but whose families feel an additional year in preschool would be beneficial. The children are usually four-and-a-half to five years old in September. Enrollment in the program is determined by birthday order of currently enrolled students (the older the child, the higher the priority).
Pre-K is located in the church building in two adjoining classrooms. The children move between the classrooms for various activities. These classrooms contain many learning materials and are designed to enhance children's social, emotional, cognitive and physical development. We approach the learning experience through a literature-based curriculum initiated by each child's chosen book, and each book's theme is studied for two weeks. Activities such as art, music, language, mathematics, movement, drama, gardening and cooking are planned from each book's story line.
Outdoor play is enjoyed on our regular preschool playground. Children from the Pre-K may also join our early morning and afternoon Enrichment Programs held on the preschool side.
Tips to help ease your child's adjustment to the new and exciting experience of preschool:
—Plan enough time for your child to dress and have a good breakfast. Try to avoid a "last minute rush" by having lunches prepared, sweaters ready, car keys in place, etc. It is best for your child to arrive at school feeling relaxed.
—Dress your child appropriately for school. Growing and learning are a messy business, and dressy, restrictive clothes interfere with a child's freedom to explore new things.
—Bring your child to school on time. It may be difficult for a child (who is just learning social skills) to come into the program after everyone else is busy at work.
—Our Early Morning Child Care from 8:00 to 9:00am is often a quieter, more relaxed time for a reticent child to begin school. Parents may stay for a short while and help their child get involved in activities before the "big day" begins.
—Arrive on time to pick up your child from school. It may be upsetting for a child to be the "last one" at school when everyone else has gone home or when your expected time of arrival has passed. (A child may feel abandoned and afraid, and may refuse to come to school for awhile after such an experience.)
—Please be considerate of everyone by keeping your child home when he or she is not feeling well. A child with a cold, cough, or mild intestinal upset does not have fun at school... and it is unfair to risk infecting other children.
Read an article on supporting children's social emotional development written by our sister school's Director, Marcela Amador—please note, this will take you to the Tamalpais Preschool website.
Lunch & Nutritious Snacks
Daily snacks are provided in the morning and in the afternoon. Snack may include crackers, cereal, vegetables, or fruit and a beverage, and an occasional birthday treat.
Children who stay for lunch, bring their own lunches to school in a lunch box or sack. Nutritious lunches give children energy and begin a lifetime habit of healthy eating. Pediatricians advise parents to avoid foods that may cause a child to choke, such as popcorn, nuts of all kinds, uncooked celery, carrots and hot dogs. Please no candy or drinks in cans or bottles.
Due to a few severe peanut allergies among our students, Strawberry Preschool is a "nut free" school and we do not allow any peanuts or peanut products in our school. Please avoid peanut butter (a safer alternative is sunflower butter or soy butter) and peanut oil products in lunches or treats brought to school for any occasion.
Vaccination Requirements for Staff & Volunteers
California state licensing rules signed into law by former Governor Brown require everyone who volunteers or works in the classroom to have the following 3 vaccines:
—MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella)
—Pertussis (Whopping Cough)
Download the Vaccination Requirements (pdf) for full details.
Download our COVID-19 Site-Specific Protection Plan (pdf), outlining our plan that provides for a safe, clean environment for all children and teachers. We will follow these guidelines to the fullest extent possible and will adjust if necessary due to changing conditions. We have conducted a thorough risk assessment of our business practices to determine these guidelines.